Safety Lessons Learned From Wile E. Coyote 3

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Today’s lesson learned from the Wile E. Coyote school of safety where they constantly defy the laws of physics, perverse the rules of nature and live in animated immortality.  But in our world, the earth sucks as gravity still wins.

 

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LESSON 3 – Weight Limits.  Each of you has a limit on how much weight you can lift and hold safely.  Machines and equipment are very much the same way in that respect. When they are built at the factory, with the specifications made by engineers, they can easily move or lift the weight they were designed to handle.  That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with those limits so you use the right equipment for the job so it’s done quickly and safely.  

 

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This applies to everything from forklifts (try to pick up something over the weight rating and you will tip over) motorized pallet jacks and tugs.  It also applies to trucks, (too much weight on an axle will get you red-tagged at the state scale because it’s dangerous). An overweight truck is harder to stop and very unstable and harder to control on the road.  Even the steel racking in your warehouse has weight limits that you must observe and should have posted so everyone can stay safe and not worry about falling racks.  So as you see it’s just not just fashionable to worry about being overweight but healthy for you on many levels.

 

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Safety Lessons Learned From Wile E. Coyote 2

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Today’s lesson learned from the Wile E. Coyote school of safety where they constantly defy the laws of physics, perverse the rules of nature and live in animated immortality.  But in our world reality always wins.

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Lesson two – Daily inspections and checklist.  Yea, yea. They’re a pain, every day the same thing, what a waste of time said one employee as he picked up a forklift checklist and just marked everything off right down the list as ok without even looking at the forklift.  When I challenged him on it he asked does anybody really look at them?  Yes, I do, I replied.  Not only did I look at them and keep them on file but when items are indicated that need maintenance or repair I always attach the repair technician’s report of repairs so there is one easy continuous paper trail available if you were to ever have an OSHA audit.

 

However, what is more, important than the completed checklist is the actual conduction of the inspection.  That’s right, the checklist is not there just to torture you but to remind you what to look at and for during that preshift inspection so the forklift or other powered vehicle is safe to operate for the full shift.  An inspection report is a tool for communicating needed maintenance and a legal document that must be properly completed.

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Did you see a puddle under the vehicle, does the horn work properly, what condition are the tires, do the breaks work?  Those observations make inspections critical to your safety.  Don’t assume the last person to operate the equipment had no problems or the warehouse fairy will do repairs overnight and if the horn stops working or the breaks are pulling don’t wait to report the problem on the next inspection.  Stop and report immediately!  Take the few minutes to do a proper inspection, complete the checklist and have a productive day at work.

 

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Safety Lessons Learned From Wile E. Coyote

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Today’s thoughts on lessons learned from the Wile E. Coyote school of safety where they constantly defy the laws of physics, perverse the rules of nature and live in animated immortality.  But in our world gravity always wins.

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LESSON 1 Never stand directly under a suspended load of materials or a bin with a clogged auger.  If it were to suddenly drop or flow you don’t want to be there between it and the floor upon its landing.  Even when clearing any kind of jam don’t try to clear it from directly underneath. (Are you seeing the theme here?)  A sudden release of the jammed product could the very least seriously injure your neck, spine, shoulders, head or suffocate you if not outright kill you.  Also when you are clearing jams please make sure to Lock Out Tag Out the power source to help prevent injuries,  Never keep quiet about safety for the life you save may be your own.

 

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Companies Behaving Badly-The Return

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Yes! Because of your many fabulous comments and requests, which was so greatly appreciated- This is the return of Companies Behaving Badly which will now be published the third Thursday of each month.

This means I will have to add something new and make adjustments my routine so I can dedicate time to writing this series which is a good thing since it’s nice to change up one’s routine so it doesn’t get too stale and predictable but it’s also bad in that I absolutely hate changing my routine.  Once I get a routine all nicely broken in, comfy and predictable I’m set and can carry on for months if not years.  However, when it comes to safety in the workplace getting into a set routine can be very dangerous.

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When we fall into a set routine we develop a false sense of security and then complacency develops and focus is lost.  You’ve backed up your forklift hundreds of times when loading, unloading trucks or storage racks and you have always looked behind before moving and in all those times not once, did anyone walk behind you.  Complacency begins to woo you over to their ways and letting your guard down as your new false security is reason to believe people know better than to go behind you and they need to watch for you.  So now you backup your forklift without even so much as a slight swivel of your head.

One day it happens – 

So how do we combat complacency in the workplace?  We could hire cheerleaders shouting out encouragement to pay attention to the movement on the shop floor but that could become very impractical and costly overtime not to mention distracting.  We could use the grief and guilt generated from the accident to motivate workers to avoid complacency but unfortunately, that has a short shelf-life as the memory will soon fade.

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It’s not easy to be on the top of your game every day.  Even athletes have off days.  You didn’t sleep, you’re worried about a sick family member, you’re ill, you have money problems, but you do your best to stay focused.   You can’t be a helicopter manager walking alongside your employees every minute of the workday but you can have a huddle at the beginning of each shift.  It’s the best time to communicate with your staff about what to expect, what to watch for and any other reminders you want to convey.

It’s also why you as the manager/supervisor want to be on the shop floor 80% of your time.  Watching for signs of complacency and touching base with workers in real-time.  Let’s face it, workplace safety is not glamorous, at times it seems like your parents scolding but maybe if we think of it as a form of communication instead of safety where we discuss ways to ensure we go home in one piece and understand you are just as responsible for your safety as the company you work for, maybe even more so.

PREVENTABLE – Beer delivery firm fined £800,000 after a worker was run over by forklift truck at Dagenham depot https://buff.ly/2Uzutsx  Here’s a case where a forklift backed up and hit a worker.

PREVENTABLE WORKING TOGETHER –  Workplace fatalities are at their highest levels since 2008. What’s going on?  More than ever we need to watch each other back at work. Stay focused and don’t be afraid to speak up.

PREVENTABLE –  Ever wonder what an accident waiting to happen looks like?  Inside a chaotic warehouse where Hermes staff were ‘buried in parcels. https://buff.ly/36XHzTb Wonder what the customers are thinking.  Housekeeping is an important part of safety in the workplace.  It prevents trips, slips and falls not to mention makes the facility look really good too and keeps the brass from looking deeper.

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PREVENTABLE –  This is not complacency related but is a distraction issue which is just as bad. Jobsites’ most universal hazard is the personal cellphone  https://buff.ly/2UwtZU0: We really are our own worst enemy.

Why you need to inspect

PREVENTABLE – A worker was killed in a wood drying kiln because he couldn’t exit as over time corrosion prevented the door from being opened with the push bar from inside.  A routine inspection could have caught that.  The manufacturer was fined $281,250 https://buff.ly/39xcyY3

PREVENTABLE – Widow of a construction worker killed in light rail site fall sues maker of protection device https://buff.ly/2SrUCXx All safety equipment must be inspected on a regular and consistent basis to prevent tragedies. Make sure it’s being done.

Who’d a thought

We are an interesting species.  We love to solve problems even though the solutions make cause more problems like this one.  WIND turbine blades can’t be recycled so they’re piling up in landfills — https://buff.ly/2v6yI4e Just like all the spent nuclear rods we have piling up.  Eventually, we’re going to run out of space.  Do you have any suggestions for reuse?

Well, that brings this episode to a close and thank you all for stopping by.  Remember you are in charge of your safety.  Don’t let anyone threaten or bully you into doing unsafe acts.  Until next month, take care

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You Know The Drill

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In a recent twitter chat on workplace safety for #USAMfgHour one of the questions we posed to the group was, When was the last time you had an emergency evacuation or fire drill?”  I was not prepared at all for the responses and quite shocked as sadly they ranged from not at all to Not as often as we should.  It was disconcerting to think that employees may not know how to evacuate, respond in an emergency or where to assemble for a headcount.   

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I often harp about having drills and the associated training but only because I truly believe there is nothing more critical in any industry, then training and drills.  They help to improve employee’s skills, keeps them current with new trends and equipment, increase their self-confidence which becomes an added bonus of improving employee retention.  Drills are also a great opportunity to share information between management and employees and visa Versa on what’s working or not.  

As important as that is, it’s even more essential to drill, on not just how employees are to respond to an emergency but that they know what PPE is required and how to properly wear it along with any other equipment that is used during an emergency and that it is fully operational as well.   Make sure to drill and check any backup systems too. 

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Emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are funny things.  They happen when they want too, not when it’s convenient for us and that’s more than enough reason why all shifts especially those off shifts when most of management is gone, need to be trained and drilled responding to emergencies.  When an emergency happens every second counts when responding and that can make the difference between dying or surviving. 

One of the best ways to conduct a drill is to just make it one of your monthly safety meetings during your yearly slow period.  This way you can go the whole nine yards including use of hazmat suits, respirators and operating the pumps or vent fans.  Do it all and make sure it all works. Take notes on who/what goes right and who/what goes wrong.  Ask for your employees’ feedback on the drill, in fact, have a quality circle discussion on what do they think can be improved.  Make changes as needed and the written procedures reflect it and everyone has signed off on the training.  I held drills every six months for several reasons.  First to keep everyone on their toes, second improve the team’s response time and last but not least, would purposely swap out staff at different key responder positions since disasters also don’t know who’s on vacation or a new employee.

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Unfortunately, in this day and age, the reality is in addition to training and drilling for liquid spills, gas leaks or other mechanical issues you also need to have a plan to deal with an active shooter.  It’s not a great topic or something I ever had to deal with but you never know if a disgruntled employee or a jilted lover will show up unexpectedly to settle a score.  So you need a way to alert workers to shelter and place until law enforcement arrives.  

Some of us have “to go” bags or emergency survival kits in our homes for the purpose of giving some added insurance should a disaster hit our area.  There is no reason at all why you shouldn’t have one of these in your place of business as well.  Depending on your location, in the event of an earthquake, you may be cut off until help can arrive and those supplies would come in very handy.  Your safety committee can put it together and maintain it or you can make it a team-building project, either way, don’t delay.

If your company doesn’t hold drills you can always conduct your own during your lunch break.  Look and find where the closest emergency exits are, walk the evacuation route and locate the assembly area.  Safety is just as much your responsibility as the companies.  Take control of it and don’t become a victim.  When you begin a new job, your first job, internship, apprenticeship or seasonal work for any company and you do not receive any formal training and materials explaining what to do in an emergency, you need to find another job cause this company cares nothing about you and that’s the last place you want to die.

You should never feel unsafe on the job, you can’t be forced to put yourself in danger to do a job.  If you find yourself threatened or bullied make an anonymous call to the OSHA HOTLINE  1-800-321-6742  The life you save may be your own.

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It’s 9 a.m. Do You Know Where Your Contractors Are?

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As your company grows in sales and expands to accommodate more SKUs, greater inventory, new machinery, and additional employees at one time or another, your business is going to need help from an outside contractor.  They may be in the form of an engineering consultant, general contractor, painter or other types of specialists needed for a project well beyond your or your staffs’ current expertise.

When you make that final selection on your outside contractor before you sign anything make sure to do your homework and check up on their history.  If it all comes back good and you’re ready to offer a contract for the work to be done, on their first day at your facility they should be treated like any other new or temporary/seasonal worker that you bring in and participate in a safety orientation before doing anything. 

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Why?  They don’t know what your expectations are on safety and you don’t want to assume they do.  They don’t know your facility very well and you want to make sure as heck that they don’t contaminate your staff with their bad habits.  You also want to make sure they know that if their workers don’t follow those rules at your facility they’ll be banned from entering.  It’s your facility, your rules and you don’t need additional headaches because an outside contractor couldn’t follow direction and is now in need of medical attention.

You’d be amazed how many outside contractors are injured or killed every year on the job because they either cut corners on safety procedures, were traveling (via foot, electric cart, forklift) in an unfamiliar layout, lack of training or the company didn’t communicate instructions to them properly or incorrectly.  Here’s a contractor who’s paying a hefty fine for not following safety rules.  OSHA Fines Contractor $94K After Worker Burned At McDavid Sawmill and here’s another contractor being investigated for a chemical spill, OSHA investigating contractor B.L. Harbert over Birmingham Water Works chemical spill

As I stated earlier, it’s amazing the number of contractors injured or killed and it appears this is becoming a more serious problem as the numbers have increased.  A sharp rise in US contract workers killed on the job

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We hired an outside contractor to do some work on a new production line we were installing and it involved electrical and concrete work.  The main mode of transport within the facility was by man-lift, elevator or stairs with man-lift being the main one and the rule was if you rode the man-lift you didn’t carry a backpack, tools or other cumbersome items.  If you dropped it someone could be injured below or if it got caught riding up you could fall.  Our maintenance crew knew to take their carts and equipment up by the elevator.  The outside contractor didn’t go through any safety orientation as the company assumed all would be well.

A few days after the work began there was a commotion on one of the upper levels in the facility and our in-house emergency team responded to a call at the north man-lift where someone had fallen.  It was one of the contractors and it was bad enough that a call was made to 911 for an ambulance.  He was in a rush and had decided he didn’t want to wait for the elevator but took his tools up the lift with him and wound up falling two stories.  He broke both ankles, a leg, two ribs, a shoulder and sustained back and head injuries.

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The very next day the company had every manager doing recertification on every employee in their department.  I had to watch all 60 of my staff get on the lift, one at a time go up one flight, get off and then come back down one flight.  Documented it for all and then had myself recertified.  A fun evening was had by all.  Here lies the problem.  When you don’t take care of business the right way the first time, by proper training, proper documentation, you wind up spending and wasting time documenting while trying to keep production going full speed just to cover the company’s ass.

However, this will not be a problem at your facility and you will be in full control if you follow these guidelines:

  1. This is your facility, your rules, you are in charge!  As the supreme leader responsible for what goes on, it’s your rules of the road that are followed to protect everyone from employees to outside visitors.
  2. Any individual from the outside contractor must complete your in-house safety orientation. This is important especially if your facility has man lifts, elevators, confined spaces, danger areas, and flammables.
  3. Constant sustained communication between the contractor and you, the hiring company is critical to everyone’s safety.  What equipment will they be using that day, noise level, dust level and so on?
  4. To achieve #3 designate a point person at your company for the contractor to communicate with, answering any questions at any time while the contractors are physically on-site.
  5. Check-in and check out daily with the contractor.  Greet them upon arrival, go over any new details and see them when they leave.
  6. Stop by periodically to touch base and see how the work is progressing and that the contractor’s workers are not wondering anywhere they shouldn’t be.
  7. Don’t hesitate to ban any outside worker not following the rules or committing an unsafe act.
  8. It’s your facility, you are in charge, be in charge.

 

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The TopTen OSHA Violations Before Christmas. On the Eve Day

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It’s Christmas Eve at the Northpole and everybody is busy and celebrating!  Santa and the elves did an outstanding job of fixing all the violations which included hours of training and practice and then completing the seemingly impossible task of getting all the toys and gifts that boys and girls around the world had asked Santa for produced and loaded on the sleigh!  This could only have been accomplished thanks to the great team effort of the elves.

That’s what it takes when it comes to safety at the workplace,  It takes a team of dedicated workers watching each other’s backs and reminding how to properly deal with hazards.  Even if the call for safety doesn’t come from the top executives you can still control what goes on in your work area.  You make the decision to wear your PPE, (safety goggles, ear protection, dust mask, and bump caps.  You make the decision to wear your fall protection gear, you make the decision to work on your machine without LOTO.  You make the decision to inspect your forklift before using it.

It is against the law to bully or threaten an employee to commit an unsafe act.  It is against the law to tamper with any kind of safety shutoff.   Yes, some companies are disrespectful dumbasses and may fire you for insubordination but do you want to work for a company that doesn’t care enough about whether you live or die on the job?   You do have OSHA in your corner.  That’s why they have an 1-800-321-6742 (OSHA) HOTLINE.  

Tomorrow is Christmas day, and around our beautiful country, as families gather and celebrate the holiday, there will be over 5,000 empty seats.   Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, cousins will not be there because they died in an industrial accident this year.  We will miss the way they carved the ham, that special pie she made, the awful jokes Uncle told or the great laugh she had.  They will be missed and the heartache will have to be relived all over again.  We are all like snowflakes, no two alike.  Each with our own combination of skills and talents which makes us unique.  We come into this world for a short time to accomplish goals, have families, make a comfortable living.  You never know if they were the one with the next cure for a disease or invention to benefit the human race.

Thank you for stopping by and taking time out of your busy day to read our presentation of the TopTen OSHA Violations before Christmas.  The reception has greatly exceeded our expectations and that’s only because of great fans like you. Thank you.  Wish you all a Happy Chanukah and a Merry Christmas.

 

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